Goals update – 24 in 2024 goals, and the secret list :)

I’m writing this goals update 3 months and 1 week into the year.

Summer – beautiful, but I have had more than enough of it.

A few disclaimers before I start the update:

  1. I have two lists this year, the main one and a few more fun, once-off items on a second list, simply because when I looked at the main list, it looked like a LOT of hard work and I didn’t want to feel burdened by a list.
  2. Therefore, when I talk about numbers done, I’ll refer to both of these.

Done

  1. Buy a new car
  2. Try a new stretch class
  3. Read Atomic Habits as a work book club (I have read it, we have met 4 out of the 6 allocated sessions and I got what I wanted from it).
  4. Listen to more music. I have listened to more music in one month than I did the entire year of 2023, so I’m calling it done.
  5. Watch more TV. Same. May I recommend Dance Life on Prime Video? I loved it! I love seeing people in their passion and hard work that goes into making that passion true excellence.

Abandoned

Do Happiness Project Revisited. Towards the end of February, I cancelled – nothing to do with the content but I was bone tired of chasing up on my playbook, nearly 3 months after ordering. The chasing up was worse than work and it was causing unhappiness instead of happiness. (nothing to do with Gretchen’s team; I am not sure why DHL decided to send it to our liquidated Post Office in South Africa – seriously, we have no post offices).

I was trying to take a photo of my favourite new summer pants; clearly I am bad at taking these pics but I still liked how I looked, so there you go

In progress

  1. Exercise going well but I have abandoned the stretch because I wasn’t getting enough cardio and that is very important to me for heart health.
  2. Reading – 30 books in
  3. 10 non-fiction physical books – I have finished 4 of the 10; 2 currently in progress.
  4. Play with photography again and post things that delight me – yes, going well! Also really looking forward to full autumn foliage, the most beautiful season.
  5. Write 24 in 2024
  6. Use up 24 beauty/ body/ bath products – this is going very well. Just this week I had a little relapse (I bought a set of body wash/ body lotions, realised only once I’d got home and opened it up so I kept one of each, and gave some to the kids and Precious). Bonus points for me for returning the other two boxes I’d also bought.
  7. Do many declutter challenges – I have now done 6 batches of 24 (you can see all of these on my Instagram highlights; I post the week’s stuff every weekend.

on my other list, I have to try a recipe every month. this is so easy because of Instagram. Also, StephCooksStuff 🙂

The other list

  1. Finish listening to last few CDs before decluttering them – done (the new car sped things up because I have no CD player so had to listen on Spotify)
  2. Make eye appointment – yay, I don’t need new specs. R10 000 saved!

And that’s it – very happy with my Q1 progress. On my main list, I am tracking at 33,3% for the year, which is ahead of  my budget. Good thing, because it looks slow hereon out unless I actually get around to planning my 50th, booking a weekend away or doing that no-spend month. Hmmmm.

How are you doing on your 24 in 2024 goals?

A life in rhythm vs a balanced life

One of my goals for this year is to (finally) finish reading the 10 physical books on my actual bookshelf – this one.

rainbow bookshelf

Therefore I need to be reading about two books a month to be done by the end of June. I had the goal set for the end of April but I realised that end of June is more realistic as I only have 2 – 3 slowish mornings a week to read, not the 7 I had in 2020 and 2021 when I read, in bed, every morning, without fail.

In January I finished Ikigai and Your Life in Rhythm.

Let’s talk about your life in rhythm by Bruce Miller

The part I loved the most talks about seasonal rhythms. These are both strict seasons like autumn and winter and also “the season of being an empty nester or new parent” or “the season of going into year-end or budgeting season. Accountants feel the end of tax season to a greater effect than those who are not in a finance field.

I was then inspired to use my own Let’s Do This workbook to note down what happens in my life seasonally.

Quarterly rhythms

birthday season – all four of us celebrate our birthdays in less than a month, my mother’s one is in that same month and my mother-in-law is less than a month earlier. Not exactly sure why but I also seem to have a lot of friends who also celebrate their birthdays in July and early August. This is probably why I do “birthday month” – it takes some of the pressure off me to “celebrate” and also it’s nicer to have friend dates to look forward to the whole of August.

actual winter – as long-time readers know, I love winter and my own rhythms also change then. I leave work earlier as I don’t like driving during loadshedding when it’s dark outside. I sleep more, easily a solid 7h30 on average daily (just checked my Fitbit stats and from June to Aug last year, I averaged 7h38 last year and 7h46 in 2022). We also usually take a beach holiday in winter which I love.

happy Marcia on a beach holiday in winter

other quarterly cycles – swopping my clothes around (this happens twice a year, once in April and then in around October), spring cleaning (September and December/ January are the big ones), beginning of the school year (the big fitting on and replacing of school shoes, clothes and takkies, and of course, buying all the school books).

Weekly rhythms

I’ve always found it helpful to think of my life in a weekly rather than a daily rhythm. Thinking daily makes me feel like I’m always behind but in a week, I feel like I generally get to what I want to do.

What are some of your weekly rhythms?

Well, there are things you do during the week (like work and your kids go to school) and then there are weekend things.

It’s helpful to think about what you like to get done and see where in the week that might fit.

Exercise

I like to have three sessions a week, at least two of them cardio. I realised when I did my January review that in trying to incorporate more stretch classes, I was robbing myself of cardio because I still only have those 3 sessions available every week. (More on this in my next newsletter) At least I realised this quickly.

Big chunks of reading

I read “bits” every day – 20 – 30 mins in the morning and about the same at night, and on the days I drive into the office, I have another 90 minutes of a fiction audiobook.

I also like what I call a big chunk of reading on the weekend, 3 – 4 glorious hours to immerse myself in a book. That is not going to just happen, so my preferred rhythm is a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Household maintenance

I also menu plan after looking through the freezer (e.g. we are going to have a lot of chicken this week because there is too much in the freezer), update the shopping list and cook something in batch, most weeks.

I also like to tidy my bedroom and bathroom on the weekend to reset for the week ahead. No, the world will not fall apart if this is not done, but my brain is calmer if it is. #outerorderinnercalm

winter is the prettiest… especially framed by red cars

What I need to work on

Personal monthly rhythms

I am great with doing a goals review every month, updating my spreadsheets and setting goals for the new month. Here’s a post where I put it all together for you.

However, I never take into account my female cycles (and I should, because it does affect my energy levels and what I can do that week). I also want to start setting up regular maintenance days for colouring my hair. I’ve been winging it and do when it looks really bad but it would be nice to be a grown-up and actually schedule a regular weekend for “upkeep”.

If you want to rethink your goals and rhythms to take the seasons into account, use page 8 in my workbook:  Let’s Do This 2023 workbook (it’s free).

Which rhythms are easier for you, and which are more difficult? Annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily?

5 ways to set fun, achievable 24 in 2024 goals

I’ve been following Gretchen Rubin’s annual goals linked to the calendar year since she started doing these back in (was it 2017? 2018?) and they are certainly a fun way to write down some goals. However, it gets a bit tricky as the years go on. I’ve found that a few things help me to not feel overwhelmed with the sheer number and I’d like to share these tips with you:

1. Pick a few easy, once-off goals to get you started

  • Is there something you need to buy that will involve only a step or two? New underwear?
  • Do you want to try something new? One year (2020) I had “try an adult ballet class” on my list. Once I attended, that was done! I bought a car, a big deal because it had been 17 years with my previous one.
  • One year I had “learn to roast a chicken”. I had to do it twice before I was happy with it and I also learned that I prefer to pay for a rotisserie chicken 😉
  • Do you want to see a favourite performer, a ballet, or go to the theatre?
  • I also put my most-hated but still necessary medical appointments on my list.

2. Are there practices you want to commit to monthly or weekly?

  • It doesn’t have to be many times a month but having something to do 12 times a year is doable and the consistency will help build it into a habit.
  • Some examples – join a book club and attend once a month, see Friend X once a month, have a monthly date with your kids, etc.
  • Maybe for an exercise routine to stick, you might have “attend Zumba twice every week”.
  • I have seen so many fun lists with 24 worked into the goal. I also have a couple: 24 fun nights away or in Jhb, 24 Fun Fridays, etc. My one coaching client has “24 Sunday morning adventures with T (her young son)” – doesn’t that sound fun?

                                         A new weekly class at the gym

3. Do you have any project-based goals?

  • A project is something with multiple steps but it has a specific start and end date.
  • Some projects that have been/ are on my lists: buy a new car, get pyjama lounge carpet ripped up and replaced, and so on.
  • Are you doing the Happiness Project Revisited? Or any other course? That would fit in here too. I’ve done The Nester’s Cosy Minimalist course before and Emily P Freeman’s Discern and Decide.

4. What about goals that inspire growth?

  • I would classify a no-spend month, decluttering your kitchen, organising and getting up to date with your photo books, all in this category.
  • I am an underbuyer in most areas so I need to be encouraged to spend out in some areas. Maybe you’re one too? Maybe you’re an overbuyer and need to get your spending under control?
  • I currently have a low-iron stores situation going on so for 2023 and again this year, one goal is to have my iron tested quarterly.

5. Open and wide goals that invite whimsy or fun

  • This is my favourite category. Sometimes enneagram 1 upholders need to loosen the reigns.
  • Last year I had “watch more TV” on my list. That’s it. Open to my own interpretation and indeed, I watched more TV (I didn’t previously watch more than about two episodes of something once a month) and so I loved it. Yes, I also read fewer books as a result but I definitely had more fun.
  • This year, I have “listen to more music” on my list. I subscribed to Spotify Premium and am making playlists, searching anything that strikes my fancy and cooking with music instead of podcasts. More fun!
  • I also have “play with photography again and post things that delight only me”.

I hope all these categories help and don’t hinder you in your goal-setting this year. The point is that if you only have goals that you have to do weekly for a year, it’s going to feel like a slog. You want to have a bit of this and a bit of that so that you have a good balance. I tweaked and tweaked until my list felt more play and not all work, and then I decided to see if I could make a second list, and lo, I have another 24 items. I’m holding it all loosely though 🙂

Please ask all the questions you need. I plan to do a follow up post on how I track all of this, because I know there are many interested.

How to break up with your phone by Catherine Price

I read this book during lockdown in 2021 and at the time, I rated it 4.5*. Based on how much the concepts stayed with me and how much I still recommend this book, I have now moved it to a full 5* rating.

How to break up with your phone

I think most people lie to themselves about their phone usage. I used to do the same until I used the Moments app and these days iPhone helpfully sends me the screen stats to shock me every Sunday morning.

Why did I want to read this book?

My phone usage at the time was abysmal. And, as I’ve said before, we could all literally finish a book every four and a half hours if our phone usage was reasonable.

About the book

The book is divided into part 1 – the research, which is very interesting and easy to read – and part 2 – the how to, practical part.

I don’t care too much about the numbers these days because I now recognise after reading this book that most of what I use my phone for are tools like Goodreads, Mail, Camera, etc., but I’d be fooling myself if I didn’t admit that the Instagram dopamine hit is strong.

Did you know that they purposefully update likes and notifications erratically to keep us swiping and checking? Of course, once I found that out, I channelled my inner rebel and consciously don’t do it.

That’s just one of the things she talks about in the book.

If you watched the Social Dilemma on netflix a few years ago, you will recognise a lot of what is said here, but the book is still a solid, 5🌟 read.

Now for the fun!

my iphone screen

Three things that really, really help me:

  1. I can’t help thinking that I would rather have read a book than scroll some random person’s Instagram feed – that definitely helps me to stop the mindless scroll.
  2. Put your screentime widget on your front screen of your phone (see top left of screen above). Every time you pick up your phone and are confronted with your daily usage, you might reconsider what you intended to do. I added this widget in the second week of January this year and my screentime has gone down from 7 hours 11 to somewhere between 3 and 4 hours on average. More importantly, my Instagram usage has radically decreased. Here’s how to do it for Android phones.
  3. Put all your social media apps on page 2 of your phone. If you keep your tools on page 1 of your phone, you’re less likely to go straight to Instagram, Facebook, etc. Facebook is not on my phone and I maybe spend 10 minutes a month there via the web, and it’s all birthday check-ins.

Does your screentime usage bother you? Have you added the widget to your front page yet?

{Time management} When you’re too busy to sort out urgent things

Did anyone notice that I haven’t posted for weeks? No? That’s okay.

My website (and this blog) has been down for at least a week and a half before I had the time and mental space to book someone to attend to it.

Two interesting facts:

  1. I don’t believe in the phrase “I don’t have time” – exhibit A, my book, 31 days of Enough Time.
  2. It is tremendous growth for me to not “freak out” about a website being down.

With regards to number 2 above, this has happened a couple of times over the last few years. In the before times, I’d immediately book a person to attend to it and would not rest until it was sorted.

This time, I looked at the error, thought I should be able to fix it (I do like the methodical part of playing with a website, and tinkering until things are just right.) but knew I didn’t have either the mental bandwidth or early evening time (trust me when I say you should not mess around with your website if your brain isn’t fully awake – this involves emails to web people that say “help – I messed up!”).

So I just left it until I had time to look at it.

I was able to fix one tiny thing but not the bigger issue so I hired that piece out.

And lo, here I am blogging again.

Time management literature says that fixing the website is a Quadrant 1 activity – important and urgent.

However, my Quadrant 2 activity was tending to my health (sleep, stress management by putting in extra work hours so I could sleep – yes, a circular argument, and exercise) first and then once calm, I could attend to that Quadrant 1 activity.

I shared all that to say this: sometimes the best thing to do is to invest the time necessary to make you feel calm, no matter what that looks like.

Sometimes work colleagues will be adamant in talking to me about shutting off their computers at exactly 5pm. I’m not saying this is wrong but I am questioning whether 30 extra minutes of work might give you a better evening’s rest and certainly, more rejuvenating sleep.

Just a little something to think about.

Are you investing enough time in Quadrant 2 of The Time Matrix?

3 things that are working for me these days

(and by these days I mean January!)

This list could change next month but this is what’s working for me at the moment. I’m fully back at work – this month we’re in the office two out of five days a week, the kids have both had their first week at high school (and were exhausted!), we are adjusting to them having phones and we are dealing with constant (stage 4 – 6) loadshedding.

1. Getting inspiration for meals by actually walking around the supermarket
I go through periods of severe non-inspiration where I cannot even think what I’d like to eat, let alone cook. I am also someone who needs lots of variety in their meals. Add to that the fact that I don’t do the food shopping and Dion online shops all the time.  

I read a book last year, Creative You, which talks about creativity and your MBTI type. I get creative energy as an ESTJ by experiencing the world around me by touching, seeing, smelling, etc. I need to remember this and schedule food shopping dates maybe once a month. I’ve been hot (we have had weather in the 30s C) and with loadshedding, I just have felt so uninspired. The book is excellent for many other reasons and I highly recommend it!

Yesterday though we went for a quick vegetable shop and just strolling around the supermarket (in the blessed aircon!) for 20 minutes inspired me so. I returned home and made a menu plan. It felt so easy!


2. Having a weekly 30-minute power hour to update my lists
I used to schedule a weekly planning session and somehow that has fallen by the way sometime during the last two or so years.

But I’m bringing it back (I might do 23 minutes just to be whimsical). This block of time is to update any books I’ve read in my book bullet journal, update my diary, check on my goals, and update my line-a-day journal.

I find Sunday afternoons work best for this, just before the supper/ getting ready for the week rush, because after supper, I want to peacefully read.

3. Accountability for exercise
I’d got out of the habit of going to my Wednesday evening Zumba class around September/ October. I didn’t enjoy the class as much as I used to and then I was too busy to look for another one.

Well, there’s one thing loadshedding’s good for – my gym opened up memberships to all clubs even if your membership is only at a specific location.

When I found out, I contacted my old Zumba instructor, checked logistics, and told her I’d be in her class on Wednesday evening, and I was.

It was so good and afterwards, I told her that I’d be there every Wednesday as long as this loadshedding lasts.

What’s working for you these days?

How I did on my Project Upgrade for 2022

Unlike #rest22in2022, Project Upgrade was a huge success.

I just read the first paragraph of my post where I told you about it and it is literally the opposite of what rest was for me… and maybe that’s why it worked so well.

If you’ve hung around here for awhile, you know I love a project. I don’t know what it is but I think it’s that I like something with clearly-defined rules, and a very clear start and end date.

Remember it all started with a hotel facecloth from a hotel… and morphed into a big list of 22 items. As is always the case with these kinds of lists, some things were not as important but other things had to be added onto the list that I couldn’t have anticipated.

Things that didn’t get done

  • we were just about ready to sort out the pool and then our city announced water restrictions so we couldn’t go ahead
  • I still don’t have the big pot I mentioned in that original post (I still want one and welcome your ideas)
  • I have started to simplify our luggage (kids are sorted) but mine could use an upgrade 😉
  • I don’t need a standing desk anymore as we’re in the office so much but I did buy two laptop raisers – one for work and one for home

Good things done that were not on the original list

  • got 4 new tyres
  • got some plumbing sorted out (much, much bigger job that spanned two months)
  • we had to replace a section of our boundary wall
  • I replaced two phone screens
  • I bought a lovely, new laptop bag and handbag (and mouse pad) with some of my bonus
  • I bought new glasses (not covered by medical aid!)
  • I loved the upholstery so much I went wild and did two more chairs and an additional couch

All in all, I still did more than 22 things so this was a big, big success for me.

You’ll not be surprised that I’ve already made a smaller Project Upgrade list for 2023. One of the big items is getting solar panels installed which will solve so many problems in this land of loadshedding and power outages.

Feedback to follow at the end of the quarter 🙂

Do you need to make a Project Upgrade list for 2023? Or maybe a few items on your 23 goals in 2023 should be matters of upgrade?

{goals} It’s time to reflect on 2022 and reset for 2023

In November 2018 I tried a new thing. I wanted to create a habit of writing every day and I thought I’d kick off my end-of-year reflections as part of that writing project. It worked really, really well. In just 15 minutes a day, I did my entire reflection of the year.

The best part of it all was that it was well before my usual time for reflection, the week after Christmas. This meant that I was calm, peaceful and in the right frame of mind to enjoy my holidays and look forward to the new year.

I loved that so much I repeated it every year with similar success.

I’m doing the same thing this year with my 2022 reflection. I’m also offering a bunch of people the same process via 1:1 coaching sessions and I would love you to join me for one of those sessions.

During our time together, we’re going to reflect on the year that’s (nearly) passed, get real about our season of life, explore our values and core desired feelings, and then when we’re connected to our purpose, we’re going to set some very loose goals for the next 3 months. I’m also going to teach you exactly what to do when you face obstacles (like Covid did with all of us the last few years) and how to still set yourself up for success, whatever that looks like for you.

Here are the details:

  • $75/ R1000 for a 75-minute session
  • Decide if you prefer a weekday or weekend session and email me.
  • I’ll send you all available session times for a week or two, a Paypal invoice, Gmail invitation with a Teams link and the handbook.
  • You’ll send me your prep at least a day beforehand (so I can prepare) and we’ll meet to discuss and have an amazing session.

If you start your reflection early, you can relax and enjoy your Christmas/ New Year celebrations, knowing that you’re already set for 2023. This is the part I’m most looking forward to – the having it done and being able to relax and enjoy the festive season, no matter what that looks like.

My goal for this time together is that each person leaves our session with gratitude, clarity and hope for the year ahead.

Email me and I’ll book your place.

The habit of reading… and the Four Tendencies

This picture is apt as it was indeed a “change your life” book.

A very kind colleague told me recently that I always inspire her to try new things to make her life better.

This time, I’d told her that by doing almost nothing anyone can get through at least one non-fiction book a month. This is true… using just 20 minutes a day. We are all scrolling Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. for way more time than that – why not take just 20 mins, set your timer and read something to stimulate your brain?!

This is how I read 32 nonfiction titles last year and how I’m already at 27 nonfiction titles this year, all by doing “nothing”. I will surpass 32 books this year, and very easily.

My 20 minutes of reading nonfiction every morning started as @gretchenrubin’s #read21in2021 and is such a good fit for me that I will probably do this forever as I’ve now found a way to get through so many nonfiction titles.

VERY IMPORTANT – the rest of the day (cooking, driving, bedtime reading) is mostly fiction; I tend to read about 60-70% fiction.

Do you want to read more nonfiction? If yes, try the 20-minute timer and tell me how it works for you.

Upholders love the regular scheduling of this hack, Obligers like the accountability of having to check in so please come back and tell me how you’re doing, Obligers. Questioners who feel that they want to read more might want to try it at whichever time of day makes sense for them, and Rebels? If you want to break the IG algorithm and shake up the endless scroll, this hack may suit you. You decide 🙃

PS If you want to follow me on Goodreads and see what I’m reading, invite me to be your friend.

PPS this book was a 5-start book for me

{Goals} 2022 word of the year update – Q1

This year I chose a main word, delight, and two supporting words – balance and rest.

I’ve spoken enough about rest – how it wasn’t working and how I’m doing a reset.

But for now, let’s talk about the other two words.

I chose balance so that I would not work all the hours of every day and that my life would look more balanced. As my coaching client said so beautifully last year, I can enjoy my work without being consumed by it.

I set some specific actions for myself every week and month, and I’ve been sticking to them (#upholder). The other key thing is that I’m tracking my time. And yes, I ended the quarter on target for my work hours goal – yay!

As for delight, it has been just the thing to get me searching for moments of happiness on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

I set goals every month and some of them have to answer the question, “what can I do this month to bring more delight into my life?

  1. If I feel lazy about going to take the picture, I remind myself, “delight!” and go do it.
  2. If someone invites me to have a quick coffee or tea at the office, even though my to-do list is always long, I remind myself, “delight” and say yes.
  3. If I have a choice between two books, I ask myself, “what will delight me more at this time?” and choose that one.

I listened to three delightful audiobooks this quarter too and can I just put forward the case that if you enjoyed a book the first time round, you are going to probably love it even more on audio if the narration is good. The three books are Mary Jane, Daisy Jones and the Six, and Rachel’s Holiday.

And that’s my word of the year update!

How has your word of the year been working for you? Do you need a reset on your word? Do you need ideas to keep your word top of mind?

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